apparently the Utopians did not believe in lying down and

3. The attitude of the Puritans toward the Sabbath came from their serious thought of the Bible. Puritanism gave England the Sabbath again and planted it in America as an institution. Of course, these men learned all that they knew of it from the Bible. From that day, in spite of much change in thought of it, English- speaking people have never been wilful abusers of the Sabbath. But the condition in that day was very different. Most of the games were on the day set apart as the Sabbath. There were bull-baiting, bear-baiting, and football on Sunday. Calvin himself, though not in England, bowled on Sunday, and poor Knox attended festivities then, saying grimly that what little is right on week-days is not wrong on Sundays. After the service on Sunday morning the people thronged to the village green, where ale flowed freely and games were played until the evening dance was called. It was a work-day. Elizabeth issued a special injunction that people work after service on Sundays and holidays if they wished to do so. Employers were sustained in their demand for Sunday work.

apparently the Utopians did not believe in lying down and

There are always people in every time who count that the ideal Sabbath. The Puritans found it when they appeared. The English Reformation found it when it came. And the Bible found it when at last it came out of obscurity and laid hold on national conditions. Whatever is to be said of other races, every period of English-speaking history assures us that our moral power increases or weakens with the rise or fall of Sabbath reverence. The Puritans saw that. They saw, as many other thoughtful people saw, that the steady, repeated observance of the Sabbath gave certain national influences a chance to work; reminded the nation of certain great underlying and undying principles; in short, brought God into human thought. The Sunday of pleasure or work could never accomplish that. Both as religionists and as patriots, as lovers of God and lovers of men, they opposed the pleasure-Sunday and held for the Sabbath.

apparently the Utopians did not believe in lying down and

But that comes around again to the saying that the persistent moral appeal of the Bible gives it inevitable influence on history. It centers thought on moral issues. It challenges men to moral combats.

apparently the Utopians did not believe in lying down and

Such a force persistently working in men's minds is irresistible. It cannot be opposed; it can only fail by being neglected. And this is the force which has been steadily at work everywhere in English-speaking history since the King James version came to be.


THIS lecture must differ at two points from those which have preceded it. In the first place, the other lectures have dealt entirely with facts. This must deal also with judgments. In the earlier lectures we have avoided any consideration of what ought to have been and have centered our interest on what actually did occur. We especially avoided any argument based on a theory of the literary characteristics or literary influence of the Bible, but sought first to find the facts and then to discover what explained them. It might be very difficult to determine what is the actual place of the Bible in the life of to-day. Perhaps it would be impossible to give a broad, fair judgment. It is quite certain that the people of James's day did not realize the place it was taking. It is equally certain that many of those whom it most influenced were entirely unconscious of the fact. It is only when we look back upon the scene that we discover the influence that was moving them. But, while it is difficult to say what the place of the Bible actually is in our own times, the place it ought to have is easier to point out. That will involve a study of the conditions of our times, which suggest the need for its influence. While we must consider the facts, therefore, we will be compelled to pass some judgments also, and therein this lecture must differ from the others.

The second fact of difference is that while the earlier lectures have dealt with the King James version, this must deal rather with the Bible. For the King James version is not the Bible. There are many versions; there is but one Bible. Whatever the translators put into the various tongues, the Bible itself remains the same. There are values in the new versions; but they are simply the old value of the Bible itself. It is a familiar maxim that the newest version is the oldest Bible. We are not making the Bible up to date when we make a new version; we are only getting back to its date. A revision in our day is the effort to take out of the original writings what men of King James's day may have put in, and give them so much the better chance. There is no revised Bible; there is only a revised version. Readers sometimes feel disturbed at what they consider the changes made in the Bible. The fact is, the revision which deserves the name is lessening the changes in the Bible; it is giving us the Bible as it actually was and taking from us elements which were not part of it. One can sympathize with the eloquent Dr. Storrs, who declared, in an address in 1879, that he was against any new version because of the history of the King James version, describing it as a great oak with roots running deep and branches spreading wide. He declared we were not ready to give it up for any modern tulip-tree. There is something in that, though such figures are not always good argument. Yet the value to any book of a worthy translation is beyond calculation. The outstanding literary illustration of that fact is familiar. The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam lay in Persian literature and in different English translations long before Fitzgerald made it a household classic for literary people. The translator made the book for us in more marked way than the original writer did. In somewhat the same way the King James version gave to the English-speaking people the Bible; and no other version has taken its place.

Yet that was not a mistaken move nearly forty years ago, when the revision of the King James version was proposed and undertaken. Thirty years ago (1881) it was completed in what we ordinarily call the Revised Version, and ten years ago (1901) the American form of that Revised Version appeared. Few things could more definitely prove the accepted place of the King James version than the fact that we seem to hear less to-day of the Revised Version than we used to hear, and that, while the American Revised Version is incomparably the best in existence in its reproduction of the original, even it makes way slowly. In less than forty years the King James version crowded all its competitors off the field. The presence of the Revised Version of 1881 has not appreciably affected the sales or the demand for the King James version. In the minds of most people the English and the American revisions stand as admirable commentaries on the King James version. If one wishes to know wherein the King James version failed of representing the original, he will learn it better from those versions than from any number of commentaries; but the number of those to whom one or other of the versions has supplanted the King James version is not so large as might have been expected.

Original article by {website name}. If reprinted, please indicate the source:

zan ( 9263)
next 2023-11-30